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Even Grass and a Fountain Can Go Bad

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, June 23, 2008, at 08:13PM
Fenced Off Fountain Eric Richardson [Flickr]

A fence surrounds the fountain in this privately built median just west of the 110.

In our recent discussion of the new median at 9th and Main, several commenters suggested that the city should have stuck with a simple design of fountain and grass rather than the colorful, but controversial, one installed. In the lengthy and ongoing talk about Pershing Square, a few voices mentioned that private developers should build their own green spaces.

Across the 110 in City West is an example of privately developed green space that seems worthy of being brought into the discussion. At the fork of 3rd and Miramar, developer Geoff Palmer built a grassy, fountained median outside his project, the Visconti.

While I don't have the project's documents accessible, it's safe to assume that this little bit of green was mandated by the city, much as similar spaces are mandated in any new development. When green space is left to developers, though, the results aren't always what one might expect.

On the surface, the space appears to square up perfectly with the checklist of what Downtown residents want in a small park. It's got grass, a fountain, some palm trees, and even a bench.

But when one looks a closer, the space isn't designed for use. The fountain is blocked off by a metal fence, leaving the available space in the grassy median roughly halved. The only bench is on the north edge of the site, separated by the fountain and fence from the grassy southern side.

The result is that what could have been a perfectly interesting green space next to a 300-unit development instead becomes just something to look at as cars head west on 3rd.

Now certainly there are plenty of developers more in tune with making space that's useful to the community, but this little park reminds us that even grass and a fountain can be done poorly.


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